A fresh perspective on the role of democratic socialist ideology in Canadian politics emerges from this study of the first NDP government of Manitoba (1969-77). The policies and performance of the administration headed by Edward Schreyer areMoreA fresh perspective on the role of democratic socialist ideology in Canadian politics emerges from this study of the first NDP government of Manitoba (1969-77).
The policies and performance of the administration headed by Edward Schreyer are evaluated in the light of what might be expected of a social democratic party in office. Measured by such criteria as the redistribution of wealth, the growth of public ownership, the extension of government planning, and public participation in decision making, the achievements of the Schreyer government fell short of the expectations of its supporters and the good intentions of socialist ideology.
Just as significant as the lack of substantive change in these areas was the marginality of the programs and policy changes that were introduced. Reasons for the failure to create a new society in Manitoba are found in the evolution of the CCF-NDP, the organization of the provincial party, the make-up of caucus and cabinet, and the social basis of support for the NDP - so diffuse that electoral success depended largely on the popularity of the party leader.
But the dilemma of the NDP government was essentially that of any democratic socialist movement confronted by the near-impossibility of radically altering a society dominated by capitalist economic institutions while adhering to the norms of parliamentary democracy. In addition to providing insight into an important and hitherto unstudied period in provincial politics.